Leslie Anne Greising once said that cancer is the best thing to ever happen to her.
The statement may feel surprising coming from someone who has fought inflammatory breast cancer for 8 years and whose life will ultimately be ended by it.
But Greising, formerly a professor of business at Bethel College, believes that her cancer has brought her contacts and experiences she wouldn’t have had otherwise.
On Tuesday, July 30, Greising was surrounded by the people she has called dear in her life throughout cancer and before it. Over 200 friends and family members filled the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church for a “celebration of life gathering.”
Greising was diagnosed in 2006 with cancer, Mark Linton, Greising’s brother, said. Last week, when Greising was told her cancer was spreading too fast for treatment, Greising decided to host her celebration of life service.
“She didn’t like the sound of her own funeral,” Linton said. “This was her idea and wish.”
Greising grew up in First Presbyterian Church and married her husband, Daryl, there. They have a daughter, 13, and a son, 8.
A line of visitors snaked through the sanctuary and into the lobby to greet Greising. They were asked to give cards listing special memories with her.
Visitors had come from near and far to offer their goodbyes, Linton said. Guests ranged from the Griesing family’s babysitter to family members to colleagues.
Linton described Greising as “always putting others ahead of herself.” He said that after her diagnosis, she sought to educate as many people as possible about cancer.
Though Greising has outlived her original prognosis of three to six months that followed her diagnosis in 2006, Linton said time with her is now “limited.”
Visitors were given a picture of Greising and a note she wrote.
“I truly appreciate all of your prayers and support for both me and my family,” she wrote. “I would encourage you to make prayer a part of your life. It has been through prayer and my relationship with God that has given me strength to continue.”